Mary Magdalene is one of the most controversial and mysterious biblical figures. Little evidence is available to track what happened to Mary Magdalene after the Bible stops telling her story. Many theories compete to explain Mary Magdalene's role in the birth of Christianity and what became of her after the departure of Jesus.
As with other attempts to provide physical evidence for biblical stories, scholars and others have used relics and writings to formulate theories about Mary Magdalene. They variously claim she went to France and Turkey, wrote important gospels, and even carried Jesus' child. When it comes to what happened to Mary Magdalene after Jesus' resurrection, the facts are scarce, but fascinating and often far-fetched theories exist.
All the Bible's gospels name Mary Magdalene as the first witness to Jesus' return to earth. When the male disciples lost faith and scattered, Mary Magdalene alone saw his return. This is taken as just one indication of a special relationship; another is that Mary Magdalene refused to leave Jesus at the end.
When Jesus did return, he told her, "Do not cling to me!" implying some kind of bodily relationship, although not necessarily a sexual one.
These moments are undisputed biblical text, which many see as evidence for some of the theories about Mary Magdalene's fate.
One of the wildest theories about Mary Magdalene is also the most popular. As claimed by many, including The Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown, Mary Magdalene had a romantic relationship with Jesus that resulted in a pregnancy. Alleged evidence for this theory includes the fact that most Jewish men of Jesus' time were obligated to be married.
Some theorists further believe that after Jesus' resurrection, Mary Magdalene gave birth to his child and began the line of Merovingian kings in France.
Some theorize that Mary Magdalene fled Jerusalem with her brother, Lazarus, and ended up in what is now France, which allegedly had a thriving Jewish princedom. Legend says they traveled in a boat without oars or sails, guided by the divine.
Some stories say that upon their arrival, Mary Magdalene and Lazarus continued to preach the word of Christ and performed baptisms. Eventually, she went into seclusion in a cave. She supposedly died in the Sainte-Baume mountains.
Those who believe Mary Magdalene passed in France have an awe-inspiring relic to serve as evidence. In 1279, following up on legends about her burial place, King Charles II reportedly ordered an excavation in Saint-Maximin, a small French town. Allegedly, a sarcophagus containing her bones was found and opened, and a sweet smell poured forth.
Mary Magdalene's supposed bones are enshrined in a grotto in Saint-Maximin-la-Sainte-Baume. Her skull, contained in a sculpture of glass and gold, is even sometimes paraded through the streets.